One of the lectionary texts this week tells the story of Jesus on his way to heal a little girl, interrupted by a desperate woman also in need of healing, and how he takes time for both, speaks to both, restores both (Mark 5:21-43). As I practice lectio divina, reading and reflecting on this text, what strikes me is not any particular single word or phrase, but how the one story is inserted into the other, how each is uniquely personal, and how each receives Jesus’ attention.
I like to think I handle interruptions this way–ready to turn from my sermon preparation when someone stops by the church wanting to pray, ready to stop my walk to talk to the neighbour I seldom see, ready to answer the call for pastoral care that comes during a quiet evening at home. I want to take time for those kinds of interruptions just as Jesus did–with genuine concern, with a personal word, with a healing response.
But if my interruption is an automated call to tell me I’ve won a trip to Bermuda (hah!), I want to ignore the interruption and continue my quiet evening at home. If the interruption is the always new news on Facebook, then I need to set some boundaries and continue with my sermon. Interruptions come not only from other people, but sometimes I interrupt myself!
Discerning interruptions and how to handle them isn’t easy, whether they come from others or from our own thoughts and feelings. If I constantly allow myself to be interrupted, how can I focus on the people and tasks that God has called me to? Yet if I never allow myself to be interrupted, what God-given opportunities might I miss?
Your turn: What strikes you as you read Mark 5:21-43? How do you discern interruptions?